Never before in history were as many solutions available to save money and earn a return. Many Poles feel lost in a world of endless opportunities and use no financial services other than simple bank accounts. This is now changing as the younger generation cannot imagine a world without BLIK payments (mobile payments using a digital code), transfers to a mobile phone, and accessing a bank account on a smartphone. According to research, Poles are among the world leaders in the use of cashless payments.
Does this mean that Poles know their way around the world of finance? Do they know how to save and invest, what stocks, bonds and deposits are? A survey conducted by the GPW Foundation shows that Poles’ economic knowledge is moderately advanced, scoring 2.91 points on a 5-point scale, with 37 percent of respondents rating it as low. Poles source their knowledge mainly from the Internet and traditional media. What if they were to improve it with the help of credible institutions such as the Warsaw Stock Exchange? The stronger the awareness of the general public, the better the market functions, which is why improving the economic knowledge of Poles is our mission.
Fostering knowledge of the stock exchange, capital and commodity markets and their institutions builds public confidence, which is why educating, promoting and informing people about the market are among the key objectives of the Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW). We want to build a culture of informed investing for savers on the stock market. To this end, we established the GPW Foundation in 2015, whose mission is to develop the educational offer in the area of the capital market and the stock exchange. The Foundation implements training and educational projects for school and university students while its other programmes are addressed to investors and professionals. We aspire to provide knowledge at every stage, both for beginners and advanced users.
The Polish stock exchange is a regulated market where financial instruments are bought and sold. This is why our educational activities are primarily addressed to those interested in the capital market. For more than 20 years, we have been offering the Stock Exchange School for those who want to discover the secrets of investing. Its lecturers include practitioners and theoreticians who share their expertise and experience. The GPW Foundation runs the Stock Exchange School in cooperation with several academic centres across Poland.
Together with the Association of Individual Investors, we run the Stock Exchange Online Summer School, a series of webinars on the functioning of the stock exchange, financial instruments listed on GPW (shares, bonds, ETFs, futures, structured products, etc.), dividend-based investing, construction of investment portfolios, the basics of fundamental and technical analysis, and the psychology of investing.
Online Stock Game
Our educational ambitions go further as we also want to foster knowledge among future market participants, which is why we have created the Stock Exchange Online School Game (SIGG), a project for students and teachers of secondary schools and the two final grades of primary schools. Thanks to an investment game based on the GPWtr@der platform and an educational module, young people learn how the stock exchange market and instruments operate. Using genuine bids and asks from the actual market, students make virtual transactions on their own in financial instruments available in the game (shares, ETFs and futures). The reality of the stock market is replicated in a credible way so students experience in practice what investing is about, learn about investment risks and the consequences of wrong decisions.
Nearly 310,000 school students have participated in the 20 SIGG editions to date. We also offer school visits for secondary school students where we show them around the most important venues in the GPW headquarters, educate them about the history and functioning of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and investing in the capital market. This is how we introduce young people to Poland’s stock exchange hub.
Teachers and Students
We target teachers and students with the EduAkcja project run together with the CFA Society Poland, the Warsaw Institute of Banking, and Franklin Templeton. The project offers remote lessons in saving and investing as well as the principles of the financial and capital market: what is the stock exchange, what are the most popular financial instruments, what risks are involved in investing, what mistakes are commonly made by investors and how to avoid them.
We realise that we cannot reach all students but we understand that will be no well-educated students without well-prepared teachers. The project “Niebanalnie o giełdzie” is dedicated to teachers. The objective is to improve the skills of secondary school teachers and teachers of the final two grades in primary schools whose instruction covers economic content.
In the two editions of the project, teachers took part in many lectures and methodology workshops offered in 16 cities, two national conferences, and two competitions for lesson scenarios. All interested participants have access to educational content on the project website, including films from the series “Mam zielone pojęcie o giełdzie”, lesson scenarios, and materials from training courses.
The Index Investment Challenge project is aimed at students of any department at any university in Poland aged 19-26. The competition takes place on the GPWtr@der platform. Each participant gets one investment account and a certain amount of virtual money. During the several weeks of the competition, participants can invest in shares of companies included in the WIG20 and mWIG40 indices on the starting date of the game, as well as in ETFs and futures listed on GPW. Similar to SIGG, IIC investments are made with virtual money but transactions are based on genuine bids and asks from the actual stock market. The final round for the top 10 participants takes place live at the GPW Trading Floor and the winners receive cash prizes and vouchers to attend Stock Exchange School courses.
Poles studying outside Poland can take part in the Go4Poland programme of internships in partner companies enabling a smooth transition from the educational market to the job market. The project aims to exchange contacts and information and build relationships between students and businesses. The main objective is to encourage young talented Poles studying abroad to plan their career paths in Polish companies and public institutions. Go4Poland partners include companies offering internships as well as public administration bodies. Polish students and graduates of foreign universities from all over the world are eligible to participate, including those taking part in student exchanges at foreign universities and members of the Polish diaspora. Every year, the project closes with a conference entitled “Your Career - Go4Poland!” Lectures and discussions during the conference bring together experts as well as programme graduates and ambassadors who share their expertise and experience.
We also hold a competition for university students and graduates for the best research thesis with prizes awarded by the President of the GPW Management Board. We hold a competition for master’s and bachelor’s theses on topics related to the capital market every year as well as a competition for PhD theses every two years. The prize is awarded in cash or as an internship in a GPW department of the winner’s choice.
We know that market participants may have no financial competences and thus become an easy target for fraud. We offer them the project “Personal finance for socially excluded groups”: training courses aimed at groups of people who according to surveys have the least financial competence. The aim is to counter financial exclusion and, consequently, social exclusion. The project is addressed to wards of Children’s Homes (young people aged 15+), Social Care Homes, Youth Education Centres, Single Mother’s Homes, as well as organised groups of senior citizens.
The Financial Education and Entrepreneurship Congress, which we have been organising for five years in cooperation with the Warsaw Institute of Banking Foundation, brings an annual summary of our educational activities. The Congress is a platform for industry debates, exchange of experience, and establishment of cooperation in educational activities in the field of finance, cyber security and entrepreneurship. The event is attended by representatives of public institutions, local governments, the financial sector, NGOs, schools, universities, and the media. The Congress presents the results of a regular survey on the level of financial knowledge of Poles.
National Education Day
Every year on Oct. 14, we celebrate National Education Day in Poland. Last year, the GPW Foundation organised a Financial Education Day dedicated to students and novice investors, teachers and parents, as well as adults and seniors. We symbolically brought together the groups we target on a daily basis with a variety of educational activities, and we offered them workshops and lectures on investing and its psychology, personal finance management and cyber security. After the unexpectedly high turnout , we decided we would continue this initiative. Intensive preparations for the next edition are underway. The Second Financial Education Day will take place on Nov. 15, once again with an extensive agenda for a diverse audience.
A project aiming to develop a National Financial Education Strategy was launched in October 2021. Nine Polish institutions, including the Warsaw Stock Exchange, are involved in the project. Together with key national institutions, we are working on a plan to improve the financial knowledge and skills of Poles, including the identification of priorities and core actions in financial education. This will be the first document of its kind in Poland. A wide range of external stakeholders are involved in the work on the strategy. The project is divided into two steps. The first step aims to analyse the status quo and decide what the needs are in financial education. The second step will be to produce a financial education strategy. The project is implemented with EU funds from the European Commission’s Technical Support Instrument and in cooperation with the OECD. It is scheduled for completion in March 2023.
Through the implementation of our initiatives, we hope to build a culture of informed and long-term investing and support investors in understanding the mechanisms of capital and commodity flows. Our long-term objective is to increase the share of equities and exchange-traded financial instruments in households’ asset portfolios. We are particularly keen to ensure that the beneficiaries of our initiatives not only broaden their theoretical knowledge but also acquire practical skills in investing, saving, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. By carrying out its projects and events, the GPW Foundation enters into multiple partnerships with other organisations which also engage in economic education. We know that there is still a lot of work and many challenges ahead of us but we are constantly expanding and updating our educational projects with a view to making our contribution and ensuring that, year after year, Poles have an increasingly high level of financial
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.